The operation of a thermal power plant involves the boiling of water to facilitate the passing of steam through a turbine to produce electricity. Cooling water is circulated through a component of the plant where the steam’s heat is absorbed by the water. This component is called a steam surface condenser. The absorbed heat from the steam causes its condensation into water. This conversion serves to enable continuous operation via two processes:

  1. When the conversion occurs, a massive drop in volume is observed. This drop in the volume consequently facilitates the formation of a vacuum. Via changes in pressure, the vacuum essentially forces the trailing steam through the turbine to fill the void, thus driving an alternator to produce electricity.
  2. The condensed water is then either cycled back to the boiler or dumped into the environment depending on the intended efficiency of the plant. The former enables minimum wastage and maximum efficiency.

The condenser, therefore, acts almost as a secondary engine that helps drive the cycling of the plant, making its efficiency of paramount importance.

Value of Optimization

Maximizing the efficiency of a thermal plant can help generate more electricity while minimizing fuel costs. This means that even minimal amounts of process optimization can result in tremendous growth both in terms of profit and electrical output. For example, a modest investment in a high-efficiency motor could result in annual savings of more than 3000 tonnes of CO2 and more than $100,000 in avoided fuel and operation costs.

There are various impediments to the efficient operation of condensers such as:

  1. Air leakage and consequent reduction in vacuum due to faulty air pumps
  2. Reduction of the vacuum is also caused by deposits of organic and inorganic substances along inner surfaces of the machinery, called fouling. This can ultimately lead to the corrosion of tubes.
  3. Faulty infrastructure and lack of maintenance

All these factors and more can contribute to reduced efficiency of operation. This can lead to massive losses and incurred costs. It can additionally have possibly hazardous consequences in the case of continuous neglect.

The Role of Technology in Efficiency

Technology has evolved over the past several decades to make operations more efficient in industries across the board. The same goes for power plants. Data monitoring and predictive analytics are being used to solve problems and improve productivity and efficiency.

Condenser efficiency can be maximized using sensor data and predictive analytics, to help ensure smooth running and identify performance issues. Once identified, it becomes much simpler to chart a course of action to address these issues.

Technology can help analyze data, identify trends, and produce meaningful outputs to diagnose issues as and when they occur.

For example, there was a case where a plant suffered from severe copper deposits inside the tubes. Careful data monitoring and diagnostic work enabled the strange discovery of decreases in vacuum levels at high generation loads but not at low loads. Estimates suggest losses of $38,000 per month in lost efficiency and generation.

These issues can be caught early and remedied by constant data monitoring via sensors and predictive analytics using AI technology.

More alarming issues such as tube leaks or equipment failure can also be dealt with immediately.

Plant personnel can, therefore, always be aware of issues at the nascent stages so that they can be managed before they become more problematic and expensive.


UptimeAI provides trusted AI solutions for plant operations. Static equipment such as condensers contributes to more than 50% of unexpected failures. We help to prevent and mitigate these failures and remain competitive in today’s data-driven world.

We offer the first AI-based virtual expert for asset reliability and efficiency improvement in the process and manufacturing industries.

UptimeAI enables manufacturers to maximize operational excellence with fewer alarms and higher productivity, with the ability to:

  • Consolidate disjoint solutions
  • Predict problems before they cause losses
  • Provide answers with 1000+ built-in failure modes & recommendations
  • Get smarter with usage

Benefits of UptimeAI-assisted operation

1.    Increased Reliability With Full Plant Coverage

We offer practical and cost-effective ways to monitor every single sensor and equipment, enabling you to avoid false alarms and get precise alerts with deep learning models.

2.    Reduced Performance Loss With Insights

Analysis of even the most complex systems with insights into the reasons for lowered performance. You can increase output and optimize power consumption.

3.    Improve Productivity

Workforce productivity can be improved by predictive analysis of impacts and explanation of failure models. Automation of mundane tasks allows personnel to focus on more pertinent issues.

We offer all these solutions and more with best-in-class data encryption and security to ensure the confidentiality of plant data.

AI-assisted plant operation is no longer a concept for the future but a tool to offer you an edge over your competitors. Contact us now to stay ahead of the curve.

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